There is a big difference between ‘sleep’ and ‘rest and recovery’. Rest involves allowing our bodies and minds to be free from anxiety, worry and stress. Recovery involves recognising our body’s cues for when we need to stop and allow our tissues to re-energise and repair.
Many of us are under the impression that we have unlimited energy reserves with no need for rest or recovery at all. Even if we recognise we need to rest or recover, we have no margin in our schedule to allow this to happen. Too often I see people running into trouble with burn-out as a result of not resting and recovering.
Harness the Power of a ‘Power Nap’
Perhaps countries like Spain have the right idea by incorporating siestas into their daily routines. After all, performance has been shown to increase by 34 per cent following a power nap! Researchers have found that people are designed for two sleeps in a day – the main one at night and a nap in the afternoon. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for alertness as well as stress, naturally starts to decline at about 2–3 p.m. thus leading to the ‘afternoon slump’. Having a short power nap of 20 minutes might just allow our energy and alertness levels to pick up again. Even very successful individuals like Winston Churchill, Albert Einstei, and Thomas Edison were known to power nap regularly.
So what are some tips for power napping?
- Lay undisturbed in a comfortable chair or couch for 20–30 minutes. Even if you don’t actually fall asleep the ‘rest’ will still have a positive effect
- Try not to lie down in bed during the day. Save this for night-time rest so that you don’t oversleep during the day
- Make the room as dark as possible
- Make the room temperature comfortable.
- Switch off technology.
- Try not to sleep too close to bedtime as this might interfere with night-time sleep
- Don’t feel guilty for resting
So, to sum up, power napping can be a powerful tool to improve productivity and performance. Realistically you may only be able to achieve a power nap 1–2 times per week, but this will still be of benefit.